Interfaith Emergency Services honored Frank DeLuca on Feb 14, 2019.

Philanthropist/businessman Frank DeLuca and longtime Ocala Civic Theatre Executive Director Mary Britt received Interfaith’s 2019 Legacies of Love awards for their years of enriching Marion County in donations and deeds.

“Giving back not only feels right, but it is the right thing to do,” DeLuca said upon accepting the award in front of a packed room at Hilton Ocala.

The 40-year owner of Ocala’s Toyota dealership has served on many community boards, led highly successful capital campaigns and is known for pulling out his checkbook when the community needs it most. He has donated millions of dollars to dozens of local non-profits and causes, from cancer research and K9 units to the YMCA and Interfaith’s mission to serve local families in need.

“He does this from the heart, not for glory or fame,” said Vera Sandiford, DeLuca’s longtime assistant, who told the crowd she has worked for DeLuca 64.5 percent of her life. Most notable about DeLuca, Sandiford said, are the deeds out of the public eye, including paying to install air conditioning in a woman’s singlewide mobile home, buying food for a hungry man outside of a McDonald’s and providing Christmas presents for families in need.

The Legacies of Love event closed with an appeal to help Interfaith’s Center for Life program, a staffed facility that provides free medical care for people who cannot otherwise afford treatment. Located off North Pine Avenue, the center offers medical exams, vision and dental services, mental health counseling and health education programs.

With a roomful of community leaders from law enforcement to the arts, Legacies of Love was clearly about one thing: Helping your community through giving. As the Rev. Mark Cummins said during his invocation, “We’re in this thing called life together.”


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